A DEFIANT councillor who penned an article in a community magazine referring to fellow councillors as “muppets” is accused of breaching a code of conduct.

Patricia Moore, a Colchester city councillor for West Mersea and Pyefleet, is the subject of several complaints levelled by West Mersea town councillor Chris Wood, a report revealed.

One complaint alleges Ms Moore brought Colchester Council into “serious disrepute” by making statements in the publication Mersea Life in July 2022.

A report by an independent council-appointed investigator, published online, revealed she referred to councillors “hating each other”, adding: “Elect Muppets – get a comedy show.”

The comments were made in an article under the heading "Cllr. Pat Moore CBC News". 

In her response, Ms Moore said the statement had been interpreted wrongly and could be taken as “a general comment on elected people”.

She added: “I wrote what I wrote and if people choose to interpret that it is aimed at them, I cannot control that. Sorry but that is the way it is.

“Just after election everybody is hating everyone else because of changes to seats, control etc.

“There are lots of heated argument over whether plans should go through.

“That is why I said everyone hated each other. In the next article I said everyone is friends again.

“The muppets comment is a statement of fact not generally aimed at anyone.”

The report said Ms Moore’s response showed “little recognition” of the offence such a statement could cause and added she had “not acknowledged there was any need to apologise”.

It further concluded such articles “could, and will, be perceived as being written in an official capacity, even when the article states that the content and opinions are personal”.

Another complaint, again levelled at an article written by Ms Moore for the same magazine in August 2022, concerned other comments made, including referring to the “tender-hearted soul” who had logged an official complaint against her.

It further made reference to “shedding light on some of the murkier goings on”.

Ms Moore disputed “tender-hearted soul” constitutes an insult.

She maintained the articles detailed her “personal view”, adding she had been writing such articles for the residents of Mersea for eight years.

The investigator concluded it “cannot be appropriate” to comment on an ongoing complaint in public, adding her comments on “murky actions being undertaken by council members” were not appropriate.

A further complaint alleged Ms Moore had made further reference to the ongoing complaint at a West Mersea Town Council meeting in September last year.

The report added: “Is it clearly not appropriate or professional to mention a live, unresolved complaint in a public forum, to name the individual who has made a private complaint and to challenge them and question their motives.”

Responding to the auditors, Ms Moore said the complaints were “getting like a witch hunt”.

She admitted she did question the complainant in a public forum, but added: “I was afraid to speak to them privately. I didn’t believe that the complaint was made in a private capacity.

“We are told as councillors not to put ourselves in danger.”

Ms Moore told investigators she “might apologise for her sense of humour, but that is all”.

The report concluded she had breached the code of conduct, by "failing to treat others with respect, attempting to intimidate the complainant and disclosing confidential information relating to the complaints".

The investigation’s findings will be examined by the council’s governance and audit committee on March 30, which will have the final say on whether Ms Moore breached the authority’s code of conduct.

A further report penned by council officer Andrew Weaver said: "Councillor Moore believes the complaints are politically motivated and should have been rejected at the initial assessment stage and not have proceeded to investigation.

"However, no substantive evidence of this was provided during the initial stages of consideration of the complaints nor during the investigation." 

Approached by the Gazette for comment, Ms Moore said: "Just election hopefuls playing politics."